Mpls City Council: Ward 6

If Ward 5 was the most baffling overall, Ward 6 has the most baffling political candidate: an immigrant Muslim woman who’s running as a Republican on a Democratic platform and who went to a Trump rally. She’s not going to win (I mean, come on, she has “Republican” after her name on the ballot and this ward includes Seward) but I’m probably going to spend more time than is really warranted because of the “wait, hang on, what?” factor here.

This ward’s race also has a DFL-endorsed incumbent and a challenger who is endorsed by all the progressive groups. A fourth candidate, arrested for drunk driving in July, didn’t wind up filing.

On the ballot:

Abdi Warsame (DFL, incumbent, endorsed)
Mohamud Noor (DFL)
Fadumo Yusuf (Republican)

Back in April, the Minneapolis DFL held precinct caucuses to endorse candidates for mayor, city council, and park board. The fundamental problem with precinct caucuses is that they do not scale well. If you attended a city caucus in 2016 to pick a presidential candidate, you may remember long lines and a big mess. This article describes the crowds at one precinct: “At the Capitol Hill Magnet School in St. Paul, one precinct ran out of sign-in sheets and printed ballots. Late arrivals wrote their names on blank sheets of paper and voted on torn slips of paper. Sanders carried the precinct, 207 votes to 68.” So, 275 voters total, just there to cast paper ballots.

At the April 2017 caucuses in Ward 6, one precinct (which met at the Brian Coyle community center) had well over 400 people, maybe as many as 800 or 900, they’re not even sure. The fire department got called, and moved everyone outside to the soccer field, because the gym’s capacity was only 450. (By comparison, 800 people was the turnout for the entirety of the 9th Ward, and it was considered to be a good year with a lot of enthusiasm.)

In Minnesota, when you have more people wanting to serve as delegates than you have openings for delegates, you do walking subcaucuses to choose your delegates. This system is confusing even when you have a sedate convention (here’s an explanation of walking subcaucuses on Wikipedia) and the logistics of this with 800 people milling around a soccer field beggar the imagination. Fundamentally, the caucus/ convention system is a process that falls apart the more people get enthusiastic about participating in it. And Somali immigrants are incredibly enthusiastic.

Anyway. Post-caucuses, Noor and Tiffini Forslund (who dropped out post-DUI) (correction: is totally still in the race, guys, she just missed the two-week window to file to be on the actual ballot and if you choose not to hold that against her, you can write her in) asked to have the results of the caucuses thrown out. They were turned down, and Noor did not go to the convention, saying he was concerned about safety risks. Given that Ilhan Omar got punched in the face at the endorsing convention where Phyllis Khan was facing off with Mohamud Noor (while she was volunteering for Noor), I can understand his concerns. (Warsame and his supporters found Noor’s concerns offensive; Warsame accused Noor of throwing his community under the bus.) Without his main opponent present, Warsame coasted to the endorsement.

Both Warsame and Noor have been engaged with Minneapolis politics for a while, FYI, and the rivalry vs. alliance timeline of them + various other local politicians is kind of fascinating:


2010: Noor runs for Minneapolis school board. (I wrote about him here and here.) Comes in 5th.

2011: Noor runs for Minnesota Senate in district 59, against Kari Dzeidzik. Warsame works for his campaign. Ilhan Omar volunteers for Dzeidzik.  Noor loses in the primary.

2013: Warsame runs against Liligren for Minneapolis City Council, and wins. Rep. Phyllis Kahn (from 60B, which includes a bunch of Ward 6) endorses him.

December 2013: Noor is appointed to the Minneapolis School Board to fill the vacancy left by the (tragic and untimely) death of Hussein Samatar.

2014: Noor runs against Phyllis Kahn; Warsame endorses Phyllis Kahn. Ilhan Omar is officially neutral but widely believed to be supporting Noor; before the ward convention, Warsame tells Omar’s boss (the 12th Ward Council Rep) to warn her to stay away from the convention or bad things could happen to her. She goes anyway, and winds up in the hospital with a concussion. Kahn beats Noor in the primary.

2016: Noor and Omar both run in the primary against Kahn. Warsame mostly stays out of it, then endorses Noor. Omar wins.

2017: Noor runs against Warsame. Omar endorses Noor.

Noor and Warsame both filled out the Pollen questionnaire, and they’re really pretty similar on most policies. Noor goes after Warsame for supporting the Countering Violent Extremism program, but Warsame quit supporting it and a lot of Muslim-American leaders supported it initially because they expected it to be more about supports and job programs and diversion and less about surveillance. Warsame has admitted to being personally opposed to same-sex marriage but politically he’s fine with it; I mean, this is kind of the position I would like religious conservatives to take, the “this is basically your business; my religious beliefs are mine.” (Noor is pro-same-sex-marriage and has been all along.) Noor claims that Warsame has held no listening sessions or meetings; Warsame says he has. (And there was one scheduled via his campaign site back in August. I don’t know if this is an issue of definitions or what? Although, a comment left on this article from someone who lives in a senior high-rise in the ward complains pretty bitterly about the lack of visits or interest they’ve seen from Warsame.)

Noor is endorsed by Take Action Minnesota, Our Revolution, and Reps Karen Clark, Susan Allen, and Ilhan Omar, who are most of the representatives from the areas covered by Ward 6. Warsame has the DFL endorsement but I’m not sure what other endorsements he has because his website doesn’t have a link. Searching turned up a page, but I think it’s from four years ago. (He lists Phyllis Kahn and it talks about her like she’s a current Rep rather than former.)

Before I wrap this up, I promised you a rundown of the most incongruous candidate I’ve ever seen, the woman who is not merely voting for but campaigning as a member of the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party because she is just that confident that the leopards do not intend to eat her face.

Fadumo Yusuf is an immigrant Muslim woman who wears a hijab and went to a Donald Trump rally during the primaries as a supporter.  She wanted to build a wall, but wasn’t sure what exactly Trump meant by “illegal immigrants” and found it “hurtful” that he wanted to bar Muslims. She’s now running as a Republican, even though her positions are overwhelmingly not typical Republican positions. (She supports the $15/hour minimum wage; free transit for senior citizens and $1.50 fares for everyone else; tenants’ rights programs.) Her public safety program involves speed bumps. (Don’t build speed bumps.) She wants pro-diversity educational programs to reduce hate crimes. There is nothing in here that actually sounds remotely Republican.

Nonetheless, she’s endorsed by State Senator Dan Hall; you can see his endorsement speech in this video (it’s only the first minute and a half; after that, it’s Fadumo speaking. Her speech is not in English, so I’m not sure what she said.) Senator Hall represents a district down in Burnsville and (based on his Wikipedia page) he’s apparently noteworthy for his resentment that people thought he was a bigot for opposing same-sex marriage, and for opposing school integration. (Although his statements on that are conflicting and confusing. Minneapolis schools were destroyed by integration but also he was a graduate of MPS and they never taught him to read. I’d go read the original source but the web site is gone, alas.)

She’s doing her campaign fundraising via GoFundMe. 160 shares, $0 donated.

Anyway. Yeah. Fortunately, we live in a district where people are not inclined to vote for the Leopards Eating Faces party even when they would benefit from the tax plans supported by the Leopards: Fadumo Yusuf is not going to be the next City Council rep.

Back to the Warsame and Noor: I would probably vote for Noor based on the fact that he’s endorsed by a bunch of people I like (both Omar and Clark) and because Warsame’s implicit involvement in Omar getting beat up back in 2014 (implied because he told Council Member Johnson that she should stay away, or Bad Things Might Happen) was pretty creepy. (1) Noor, (2) Warsame.




5 thoughts on “Mpls City Council: Ward 6

  1. I am reminded that reality, unlike fiction, doesn’t have to be plausible. Maybe Yusuf is doing this as some sort of surrealist performance art?

  2. Keith Ellison also endorsed Warsame. I have a postcard with a picture of them shaking hands. I used to think Warsame was solid and mostly progressive (very helpful in the $15/hr wage fight) and Noor was totally flaky. After reading this, I’m not sure how much difference there really is between the two of them, except that Noor is still looking for his first victory. I ranked Warsame first and Noor second. I certainly would have marked the Leopards Eating Faces Party third if I had read this column!

  3. Any thoughts on the recount process? Noor has requested a recount of the results. I think this is the only outstanding race in Mpls right now.

    • I saw an article about this today where Noor was quoted saying, “Last night we won in every precinct and earned twice as many votes as our opponent,” which is a really bizarre claim for someone who was 200+ votes behind on the first ballot. I mean, he’s welcome to his recount! But he claimed that Warsame was busing people in from out of town, which is a bizarrely Republicanesque talking point for a DFLer to make, and complaining that more people voted from certain addresses than can legally live there, which … I mean … I can think of several more plausible explanations for this than “voter fraud.”

      Voter fraud is rare because it’s ILLEGAL and therefore incredibly risky (compared to just, you know, campaigning.) Mistakes in ballot counting are incredibly common but don’t usually wind up mattering unless it’s close. This race is close-ish. He’s welcome to his recount but he’s not doing himself any favors in my eyes by making claims about Warsame cheating to win.

  4. I enjoyed everything I learned while running in Ward 6. I never dropped out of the race post DUI. I do not have a DUI conviction. I did miss the filing date due to personal crisis happening in my life which was a regretted wholeheartedly. I did file as a “write-in” candidate.

    I find it very saddening that all the good work I do is summed up into a DUI. Why and how is that essential to the facts and my ability to uphold equitable policy? I guess that is why this is a blog not worthy of fact finding.

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